The United Way of Southern West Virginia partners with Mabscott and Cranberry-Prosperity Elementary Schools to provide volunteer readers on a monthly basis. This United Way Reading Initiative helps to promote increased positivity towards reading and writing, as well as providing students with a positive adult role model. Additionally, each student in grades 2-5 at these schools receives their very own copy of the book that we read and discuss with them. For many children, this may be the first book that they are able to call their own; 61% of low income children live without books in their home (Campaign for Grade Level Reading, 2016). Our reading initiative aims to increase literacy rates in southern West Virginian children. According to the Campaign for Grade Level Reading (2015), 80% of children in low income families are not able to read on a 3 rd grade level by 3 rd grade. If this occurs, then those children are 13 times more likely to drop out of high school. We believe that your zip code should not determine your future, and that is why we choose to invest in developing childhood literacy.

New in 2018, we are partnering with Read Aloud West Virginia to help them expand and develop their Volunteer Reader program in the coalfields of Southern West Virginia. Currently, our Community Impact Coordinator Christina Cowley is involved on the Board of Fayette and Raleigh County chapters, and will be working in our other counties to start up and support chapters. This partnership began as we tried to brainstorm how we could scale our own reading initiative to include more of our service area, and we discovered that there was already an organization doing this. We decided to work with them to accomplish our shared goal of improving literacy rates in children and building a better workforce for tomorrow!

If you would like to be involved in Read Aloud West Virginia in any of our 7 counties, please contact our Community Impact Coordinator Christina Cowley at ccowley@unitedwayswv.org or by calling our office.